Bayesian Methods for Missing Covariates in Cure Rate Models

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We propose methods for Bayesian inference for missing covariate data with a novel class of semi-parametric survival models with a cure fraction. We allow the missing covariates to be either categorical or continuous and specify a parametric distribution for the covariates that is written as a sequence of one dimensional conditional distributions. We assume that the missing covariates are missing at random (MAR) throughout. We propose an informative class of joint prior distributions for the regression coefficients and the parameters arising from the covariate distributions. The proposed class of priors are shown to be useful in recovering information on the missing covariates especially in situations where the missing data fraction is large. Properties of the proposed prior and resulting posterior distributions are examined. Also, model checking techniques are proposed for sensitivity analyses and for checking the goodness of fit of a particular model. Specifically, we extend the Conditional Predictive Ordinate (CPO) statistic to assess goodness of fit in the presence of missing covariate data. Computational techniques using the Gibbs sampler are implemented. A real data set involving a melanoma cancer clinical trial is examined to demonstrate the methodology.

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